Your Startup Needs to Track Users, Visits and More

Last night I taught a course at General Assembly called Online Marketing Analytics. It’s the second time I’ve taught it, and both times were well attended.

Can you guess why?

Startup founders and entrepreneurs need to track stuff and they don’t know how. In charting the rise of the visual planning app Trello, founder Joel Spolsky wrote that in the early days of the app users posted about it on Twitter.  He tracked those mentions to get a sense of how they were feeling about Trello, and how they were using it. Knowing what other people are saying about you on social media isn’t just a vanity play. It’s a valuable feedback loop. You’ll learn how users are using your app, how they talk about it, and how adoption of it might spread.

The tracking game argues for a distinctive name (Trello!) or at least a hashtag for you or your app, to make tracking easier. Using is brilliant, too, because you’ll see instantly across all media where you’re being talked about. is a free tool that gives you a snapshot of popular terms and phrases online, and Google Trends does the same thing over time, going back to 2004.

The tracking game argues for using mailing list software like MailChimp, Emma or SendGrid, because you track opens and clicks, learning more about your users with each newsletter you send.

Finally, the tracking game argues for using and understanding Google Analytics. What freaks people most about Analytics?  Is it the clunky interface? The information overwhelm? The squirrleyness of the Google help desk and online knowledge base? It’s probably all of the above. But, as I said in class last night, you can get away with tracking just a few things and learn a lot.

Here are my KPI:

  • Time and Interest on the page
  • Sources
  • Top Pages
  • Bounce Rates

It’s really that simple, for me, at least at first, and it can be for you. You want to know which pages are grabbing the most attention, you want to know where those viewers are coming from you so can optimize those channels, and you want to be sure not too many people bounce off, since they are not the people you want to attract.

Just this morning I changed the flow of the Red Cup site based on my quick view of Google Analytics in last night’s class.  Most people come to the Red Cup site to read this blog, so I made the blog easier to find, placing a listing of the latest in a homepage footer widget, and another blog listing on my most visited page, the About page.